Thursday, 7 April 2011

Barnett Freedman (1901-1958)

I have always been a great admirer of Barnett Freedman’s graphic work. He developed a very individual approach to the art of the poster and book jacket and he possessed a rare subtlety of touch that enabled him to employ the art of auto-lithography to maximum advantage. Lettering was a passion that inspired highly decorative hand-drawn fonts of his own invention. Much influenced by the teaching of Paul Nash at the Royal College of Art and a later association with the Curwen Press, he had the confidence and ability to tackle a remarkably wide range of graphic assignments from Private Press book illustrations to postage stamps, from biscuit wrappers to London Transport posters. He had the instincts of a master craftsman and was famous for involving himself at every stage of the lithographic process. Unlike most of his contemporaries at Curwen, he drew his own poster designs directly on to the stone. Cheerfully switching between fine art and commercial art, he made no great distinctions between the two activities, being much more concerned to distinguish the good from the bad. Many of his book jacket designs were commissioned by Faber and Faber and must have made fabulous displays in an era when most book buyers couldn’t wait to discard the wrappers in the interests of a homogenous bookshelf. These few examples come from sundry Penrose Annuals and the pages of Signature. The Barnett Freedman Archive can be found at Manchester Metropolitan University.

No comments: